The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself. As it reveals who God is, it also serves to reveal who we are. What’s more, the Bible teaches us how to believe and therefore live in such a way that pleases God. It is a wealth of wisdom; a treasury of knowledge; an abundance of instruction; the trustworthy source of truth.
It is also beautiful.
Sometimes we forget that. We listen to the sermon, we do the daily reading, we teach the Sunday school class, and all these things are centered on God’s Word. And sometimes we can get so familiar with that Word, or at least portions of it, that we neglect to appreciate the actual language we find there. The actual beautiful language we find there. But then every so often we come across a particular verse – a particular phrase, even – and we pause. We stop and reflect. We look again and again not just because of what is being said, but the manner in which it’s being said. Such was the case for me with this little verse from Hebrews 6:
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Heb. 6:19).
An anchor for the soul. Yes, yes, yes! That’s it – that’s the right phrase. That’s the right beautiful phrase.
The context of the phrase involves God’s promise, first given to Abraham, now inherited by all those who believe in the same God that Abraham did. This is the promise, the text tells us, that God not only promised but went the extra step and guaranteed with an oath. This is the promise that all the descendants of Abraham would be blessed, and indeed we are. Not with anything so trivial and fleeting as health, wealth, and prosperity, but instead we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. This hope is the anchor of our souls.
But because the language is beautiful, maybe you think it’s a little over the top. I mean, we know who we are, and we know what we’re about. It’s a bit dramatic to use a turn of phrase like this?
I don’t think so. We do need an anchor for our souls. An anchor is what keeps a ship stable. A crew would drop one to ensure that the ship stays in its intended destination no matter what is happening in the sea around it. This is what we need. In fact, we need one more than we know, and here are three reasons why:
1. Because hardship will come.
We read the phrase anchor for the soul in the Book of Hebrews. And one of the main exhortations of that entire book, written to a group of struggling and suffering Christians who were undergoing persecution can be summarized like this: Just keep going. Continue on. Endure. Persevere. Do not give up the faith though hardship is a present reality.
So it is with us. Hardship is a present reality just by way of living in a broken world, but there will be seasons in your life and mine when that hardship will become more acute. We need the same simple exhortation – just keep going. Along with that exhortation comes a reminder that we have a firm anchor for our souls, which is what we need during times of hardship. That’s because in those days, everything seems unstable and shifting around us. Our families, our work, our income – these will all undergo change and loss. But our souls can remain secure because they are anchored to something secure – the hope in Christ that does not change.
2. Because our hearts tend to drift.
We also need an anchor for our souls because no matter how long we’ve been walking with Jesus, we have a tendency to drift. If you left a ship in the middle of a body of water, no matter how calm and serene that water might seem on the surface, it will inevitably start to drift. That’s because even though the surface appears calm, there are currents constantly operating below the surface. So it is with the human heart.
We might seem fine on the surface. Life might be put together. Our theology might be on point. Yet inside us all is the undercurrent of sin. Because it’s there, we all have the tendency to drift. And no one drifts toward Jesus; only away from Him. This is why we need to be anchored – it’s because if we are not, then we will slowly but surely start to drift away.
3. Because we are too easily pleased.
What can cause that drift? Many things, really – it could be an enticing relationship. Perhaps it’s the love of money or the chasing of some ambition. We take our focus from Christ and instead begin to meander our way toward other things – things that promise us satisfaction and joy, but never truly deliver. But we believe that promise because, as CS Lewis famously said, we are far too easily pleased.
We settle. We become content to find temporal pleasure and satisfaction in the things of the world instead of, by faith, believing that the greatest and only real lasting satisfaction can be found in God. This is why we need an anchor for the souls – it’s because we know ourselves, and we know that unless we are firmly anchored in the promise of what is and what’s to come, then we will settle for something less.
This is not just beautiful language for the sake of beautiful language; this is no mere hyperbole. It’s truth. If we know ourselves at all then we know we must be anchored, and anchored firmly.